Reaching the upper perimeter of the beach, the students made a dash for the beach huts, cheering even more as they whipped out their lunch sacks and towels to be used as blankets for sitting down on. Just as Dartmouth reached his own hut, a delirious student flung his door open, slamming Dartmouth straight in the face and causing him to topple down to the sand. “Gargh, why can’t these stupid kids ever do things calmly?” he asked with indignation, sighing and slapping his face with his open palm. Jollimore smiled. “They’re having fun, that’s why they’re excited.” “But I’m not having any fun on this day-trip at all…” moaned Dartmouth, his arms beating the sandy ground beneath. “Well, I am, and so are the students,” giggled Jollimore, which only made Dartmouth give a jaded groan.
Hauling himself back up, Dartmouth opened his hut door. He fetched his lunch sack and towel from the bench, dusting all the sand off his body beforehand to prevent contamination of his food with a gritty sensation. Finishing off with a few towel pressings, Dartmouth emerged to see Jollimore carrying his own lunch sack and towel. They rolled up both their towels and carried them under their arms for ease while holding their lunch sacks in their hands.
Lunch and towels in hand, Dartmouth and Jollimore ambled down to a spot a little further down the beach upon a sandy dune, where the students were tossing their towels up and down in the air, chattering excitedly to each other while they created a cool breeze with all the fluttering. Their towels lay gently upon the silky sand, and they dropped their lunch sacks on top. Dartmouth and Jollimore rolled their towels neatly out onto the sand, rubbing over them to flatten creases, then seated themselves and placed down their lunch sacks. Spotting their teachers bringing their lunches out, some students screamed and rushed over, hastily dumping their lunch sacks and scrabbling about for a space on Dartmouth’s towel, re-creasing it. “Rrrgh, I just ironed my towel out and you dumb kids go and wrinkle it back up,” Dartmouth growled in annoyance at the students. “Good to have a bit of company for our lunching, though,” said Jollimore, fetching his ham-and-mustard sandwich from his lunch sack. “Your company never satisfies me, Jollimore,” complained Dartmouth, glaring crossly at Jollimore while he retrieved his own ham-and-mustard sandwich.
With Dartmouth using a lot more force, Dartmouth and Jollimore ripped the packaging of their sandwiches open and twisted the caps off their bottles of soda, hissing as they released the gas. Dartmouth’s soda rapidly bubbled up and gushed out, re-soaking him and his swim trunks with a sticky, sugary tackiness. “Ah! My soda!” he clamoured rather noisily, seeing his towel get seeped with the sparkling liquid, making the students guffaw and Jollimore titter. He brought out a clean napkin to dry Dartmouth off a little. “At least we’re right beside the sea and you aren’t wearing your suit!” he joked. “But now I’ll have to get wet again!” snapped Dartmouth as he sipped a little of his soda, slamming the bottle down into the sand behind. He arose from the damp towel, dripping with soda, and stomped off back towards his hut while the students pointed after him, still chortling. “Ah, Dartmouth…” Jollimore took a juicy bite of his ham-and-mustard sandwich, sighing joyfully to himself.
Inside his hut, Dartmouth hurriedly rummaged around for his suit, fetching the jacket from his sport bag. He glared at the dyed-in blood splatter on the cuff. “Safety… Hmmph…” Stuffing his suit jacket under his right arm, Dartmouth dashed down the beach as quickly as he could, keeping well out of Jollimore and the students’ sight.
Stepping upon the beach-sea perimeter, Dartmouth dipped the bloodied cuff into the water and began to furiously scrub it back and forth, applying some seafoam as a washing aid. While he scoured, the blood splotch gradually started fading from bright red to dull pink blended with the beige of his suit. Kneeling down in the soft sand for a little more comfort and facility, Dartmouth carried on with scrubbing the blood out of the cuff, grunting with pain and ire, his back beginning to ache mildly because of his hard labouring. The blood spatter close to totally fading out of the fabric of the cuff, Dartmouth scooped up some fresh seawater in his cupped hands and splashed it on, giving it a few more good scrapes against the tiny pebbles in front for extra abrasiveness.
Retrieving the cuff of his jacket from the water, Dartmouth meticulously stared at the structure of the fabric to check that he’d swilled all the blood out. He decided he’d scrubbed it out completely, and lay his suit jacket out on a sandy dune a little further up the beach to avoid the sea totally soaking it. Dartmouth dashed back down the beach, taking a head-first dive into the sea, and he drenched his whole self again, getting rid of the gluey, sweet junk from the soda spurting all over him. He took great care not to accidentally swallow some of the saline seawater as he’d done earlier.
Ascending to the surface, Dartmouth gasped and panted heavily for breath, vigorously rubbing his body all over to remove surplus stickiness. “Gah, now I’m wet again,” he griped, slicking down his hair and body as he stepped back out of the water. He gave himself a shake-off and picked his jacket back up off the sand, rushing to his hut. Fetching a coathanger, Dartmouth slung his jacket onto the shoulders, stretching it out to help the wet, clean cuff dry with the fresh marine air, and latched it onto a hook.
Slamming his hut door shut as he stepped back outside, he stomped back up to his picnic spot beside Jollimore, throwing himself down onto his still-moist towel. Jollimore smiled while he reached out for his potato chips. “Still not tucked into your lunch yet, eh, Dartmouth?” Dartmouth just grunted in reply, and he began to munch on his own ham-and-mustard sandwich, taking regular sups of soda to keep himself hydrated.
As he chewed on a morsel of his sandwich, the peppery tang of the mustard contrasting with the sweet smokiness of the ham in his mouth, a bright white glint emanated from the corner of Dartmouth’s eye. Slowly looking up from his lunch, he spotted a student two spaces down slicing a submarine roll into manageable, easy-to-eat chunks using a sharp kitchen knife. Dartmouth gasped with sudden realization, hastily lurching upward, his anger reheating inside. “Dartmouth?” asked Jollimore, still taking nibbles of his sandwich, and Dartmouth began to shake his fists as he continued to glare at the student swallowing down the first portion of his sub. “Th-that’s… That’s…” he stammered, indicating the student, hesitating to rush towards him. Taking a hurried glimpse at the dried slash on his hand, Dartmouth whipped around to dash back to his hut and fumbled around for his suitcase, which was still spattered with blood from earlier. He slammed the door shut again and tore along the beach up to the student, holding his suitcase high above. He prepared to dish out a strong shot by swinging his arm using every bit of his own strength, and Jollimore gasped too, beginning to try to mediate.
Just as his suitcase was about to clip the student, much to Dartmouth’s great surprise, the student thrust his closed fist out at the firm leather casing, halting it straight in its path. The other students all gave a hoot of cheer. “He’s… fighting back?” remarked Jollimore, also surprised. The student karate-chopped Dartmouth’s suitcase out of his hand, prompting louder praise from his buddies. Dartmouth stood immobile with shock while Jollimore slowly edged closer to Dartmouth to pick up his suitcase for him.
Just as Jollimore lay a hand on Dartmouth’s suitcase, the student lashed a punch out at Dartmouth, knocking him back and causing him to skid back-down across the sand, whipping up a desert cloud. The other students began cheering noisily, lunging their arms up into the air, some of them clapping and chanting rhythmically. “Ugh…” groaned Dartmouth, shaking his head and placing his hand on it to calm the pang, then he started lifting himself off the ground, catching the students’ ruckus. “Huh?”
Sauntering back up to Dartmouth, the student launched another powerful punch – straight in his face. “Augh!” grunted Dartmouth with agony, droplets of blood spitting onto the sand and dyeing it bright red. Spotting the scarlet blood beads in the sand, the students’ cheering swelled into essentially roaring, their clapping and chanting racking up pace. Another punch to the face propelled Dartmouth backwards, his mouth spilling another little trickle of blood. Tasting the metallic sensation of warm iron, Dartmouth crouched down to wipe his bleeding mouth with the corner of his towel. “Dartmouth!” clamoured Jollimore, dragging Dartmouth’s suitcase over from the middle and reaching out to help him.
Unfortunately for Dartmouth, the student caught sight of his suitcase. Wrenching it out of Jollimore’s hand, he held the suitcase high up above his head, mimicking Dartmouth’s menacing posture. “Oh no,” Jollimore murmured under his breath, gaping up at Dartmouth’s suitcase up in the air eclipsing the hot, glowing sun.
Just like Dartmouth, the student swung his arm back and forth a few times to strengthen his arm muscles, and he dealt a rapid clip with the suitcase to Dartmouth’s left shoulder. “Ahh!” Dartmouth cried out, grabbing his painful shoulder. But the students only ramped up their rooting for their ‘idol’ even more. “Smack Dartmouth! Smack Dartmouth! Smack Dartmouth!” resounded repetitively and raucously across the beach.
Jollimore reached out to touch Dartmouth’s hurt shoulder, but he quickly dodged another swipe of the suitcase, which struck the left side of Dartmouth’s face. He clapped his cheek, liquid heat seeping against his hand, pulling it back to find blood. Gasping in alarm, his attempt to stand up straight and tall was broken by yet another student-delivered whack of his suitcase – this time to his right shoulder. “Ah, both my shoulders!” Dartmouth cried out again, which made the students guffaw boisterously. Jollimore reached out to Dartmouth again, rubbing onto his shoulders to alleviate the pain. “Dartmouth…”
Seizing Dartmouth by the legs, the student lurched him downwards, snatching him out of Jollimore’s hold. Dartmouth got a few spare seconds to straighten himself up just before the student handed out a great big whack with his suitcase across the chest. “Ah, my heart!” Dartmouth roared out, grabbing at the reddened patch on his chest and frantically massaging it. “His heart? He doesn’t have a heart!” another student laughed over all the noisy hullabaloo. “Well, he won’t have one soon enough!” his mate quipped, sharing his laughter while he watched Dartmouth take another suitcase whack to the chest.
The student clobbered both of Dartmouth’s shoulders with his suitcase again, deepening the tinge of red on the patches. “You’re the goon who gave me me a secret cut on the hand with your knife, aren’t you?!” Dartmouth hollered over the intense aching, grunting brusquely with each crack at his body. “I didn’t cut you, man!” asserted the student, and he walloped Dartmouth in the stomach. “Augh!” moaned Dartmouth, tightly coiling his arms around his waist. “Well, I saw you had a knife, so I thought it must have been you who cut me!” “But almost all the students here have a knife for chopping up their food, so it could be literally anyone around here. I didn’t cut you. I swear!” He clipped Dartmouth on his left leg, tearing a gash in the flesh of his shin, pouring out crimson blood. Dartmouth sharply drew in air through his gritted teeth as he knelt to the ground, the streaming blood warming the palm of his hand again. “Revenge! Revenge! Revenge!” The other students lunged their arms and curled fists up towards the bright blue sky while Dartmouth made a difficult, feeble attempt to stand back on his own two feet. Jollimore made sure to observe from well back, now feeling true apprehension for Dartmouth.
The student slowly began to skulk up to Dartmouth, who had just about managed to stand back up straight, his hands firmly on his hips. The other students jutted their index fingers out at Dartmouth, indicating him as the aim. “Knock him out! Knock him out! Knock him out!” Jollimore stayed fixed to the spot, his eyes widened. Stepping up straight in Dartmouth’s face, the student’s eyes narrowed down into thin slits with a threatening glower, his feet meeting Dartmouth’s. Jollimore’s hands practically cupped his mouth.
As the student held his suitcase high up to his eye level, Dartmouth realized that he was staring at the very tool he always used on his students to hit them, which was now being used on him – the teacher. “Knock him out! Knock him out! Knock him out!” The other students’ chanting was rapidly accelerating.
Using every last scrap of his raw arm strength, the student pulled his closed fist as far back as his tendons would allow. He booted out with a smashing punch to the suitcase, causing it to clout Dartmouth straight in his face. With a rough tumble, Dartmouth collapsed to the sandy ground, whipping up another desert cloud. Blood spat across the air and streaked the sand with scarlet. “Dartmouth!” Jollimore cried out, dashing to Dartmouth’s aid. But the students rolled out a wild round of cheering and applause for their ‘hero’, who scooped Dartmouth’s suitcase back up off the sand and jubilantly held it high up in the air to eclipse the sun again, like a gleaming golden trophy of victory.
The desert cloud gradually dissipated, revealing an awfully beaten Dartmouth: red patches and bleeding incisions marred his bare, clammy flesh. “Hah… Hah…” he breathed gruffly, his injured stomach puffing in and out with each laboured breath he took. “Dartmouth…” Jollimore caressed Dartmouth’s body gently all over to calm his pain a little, applying some silky-soft sand to the gash on his shin to mask it slightly, and he smiled. “The sea’ll help your body repair the tears naturally.”
Dartmouth suddenly sat straight back up, his arms crossed, glowering at Jollimore. “Ah, Dartmouth, that’s just how you are,” giggled Jollimore, and Dartmouth stumbled unstably back to his feet. The students detected him, however, and they all let out roars of ridicule – including Dartmouth’s assailant, who waved his suitcase about in a sinister manner imitating that of him hitting out at an unsuspecting student. “Ugh, they’re making fun of my body again,” griped Dartmouth, glimpsing down at all the fresh lacerations peppering his self, arms slumping. “They’re only making me feel even more insecure about myself.” “Always happens on the beach, doesn’t it?” Jollimore laughed, making Dartmouth give a jaded sigh. “You always joke when the time isn’t right, Jollimore.”
Dartmouth and Jollimore ambled back up to the picnic belt on the beach, where the students prattled while they crunched on their snacks and slurped on their drinks. “Alright, you stupid kids!” barked Dartmouth, and they all paused to turn to the two teachers, startled. Dartmouth smirked with mild satisfaction. “Heh. They listen to my orders for once.” Jollimore giggled again, the students chattering amiably while they peacefully yet excitedly munched on their lunches. “I guess that’s a first for ya, Dartmouth.” “Hmmph, yes.”
Jollimore tranquilly seated himself back at his picnic space, but Dartmouth chucked himself down on his, staring at his ham-and-mustard sandwiches. One of which was still only partly consumed. Jollimore playfully nudged Dartmouth in the shoulder. “Ya gotta lotta catchin’ up on ya lunch ta’ do, Dartmouth.” “Ah, thanks for that, Jollimore,” Dartmouth replied ungratefully, kneading his still-sensitive shoulder. Grabbing the half-chewed ham-and-mustard sandwich from the torn pack, he sullenly resumed his gnawing away while Jollimore popped his packet of potato chips open, beginning to chomp on the sea-salty crispiness.
Swallowing down the leftover piece of his first ham-and-mustard sandwich, Dartmouth took a small sip of his soda for refreshment and grabbed the second sandwich from the pack, beginning to bite at it. He glared across at Jollimore, who alternated each salted potato chip with sweet soda. “Hmmph. He’s eaten a lot more than me so far,” thought Dartmouth to himself, sipping another drip of soda to keep his mouth wet.
Crunching on the last potato chip, preventing dryness with more drops of soda, Jollimore rummaged inside his lunch sack to fetch his potted desserts – chocolate mousse and chocolate custard with whipped cream. “On to desserts already?” observed Dartmouth, finishing off his sandwiches and popping open his own packet of potato chips, which were roast chicken-flavoured. Jollimore chuckled, retrieving a plastic spoon from his lunch sack and peeling off the lid. “I started eating my lunch before you even did, Dartmouth.” “Ugh…” groaned Dartmouth, jabbing into his packet for the first potato chip while Jollimore scooped up some chocolate mousse, savouring the chocolatey foaminess.
So he wouldn’t have to dig into the packet each time, Dartmouth brought out a polystyrene plate from his lunch sack and emptied all the potato chips out onto it, shaking the plate about to distribute them evenly. Unfortunately for Dartmouth, the students sitting beside him sniffed the meaty scent of roast chicken in the air, and they dived at his plate, pecking away at the potato chips for handfuls like a horde of pigeons to a chunk of dropped bread, shouting hungrily. “Hey! You dumb kids! You have your OWN food to eat, so don’t scoff mine!” snapped Dartmouth, trying to shove them off without much success. Jollimore quietly tittered to himself, shaking his head slightly as he scooped up another spoonful of chocolate mousse.
Dartmouth winded up with only a measly mound of potato chips on his plate, since the students had snaffled up much of the rest. “Rrrrrrggggghhhhhh… Those stupid kids left almost no potato chips for me at all…” he scowled down at his plate, folding his arms. “They love their guilty-pleasure treats rather than the healthier stuff, so they’ll hunt for junk more,” explained Jollimore, shovelling up a big spoonful of chocolate mousse from the base of the pot and slipping it into his mouth. “Huh. You say,” harrumphed Dartmouth, reluctantly picking at a potato chip on his plate and munching down on it.
Jollimore peeled the lid off the chocolate custard and carefully skimmed off the whipped cream, tasting the light and creamy fluffiness. “Ooh, this whipped cream’s so thick,” he mused, the cream bubbling in his mouth. “The creaminess really makes itself prominent.” “That’s because it’s cream,” retorted Dartmouth. “But it’s the whipped sort of cream, so that’s why it’s thicker and fluffier than other types of cream,” Jollimore clarified. Dartmouth crunched on the last potato chip from his plate. “I know someone who needs to be whipped – right some good.” Jollimore grinned as he started on the thick chocolate layer of his second dessert. “You come up with some great puns when you don’t intend to, Dartmouth.” “Ugh…” Dartmouth slapped his towel with a loosened palm.
Dartmouth brought out the first of his own potted desserts – a chocolate mousse, just like Jollimore’s. “Oh, you on your own chocolate mousse?” asked Jollimore. “I’m just finishing up my chocolate custard. And my lunch, too.” “Well, I’m close to finishing mine,” said Dartmouth, peeling off the lid, grabbing a spoon and digging up a scoop of chocolate mousse. Jollimore reached deep into his lunch sack, from where he fetched a miniature sachet of gummy candies. Dartmouth stared at the packet, clutching onto his spoon. “You had more in there?” he asked Jollimore, looking somewhat annoyed. “Oh, I just had to complete my lunch with a little sweet treat,” smiled Jollimore. He burst the sachet open and poured some gummies into his hand, chewing to release the fruity essences. “Ugh,” moaned Dartmouth, swallowing down another spoonful of chocolate mousse. “You’ve already had TWO sweet foodstuffs, Jollimore.” “Now three – or rather several,” chuckled Jollimore, chewing on a second handful of gummies, drawing out Dartmouth’s moan longer.
Jollimore scraped the last few gummies out of the packet, masticating on a final tang of fruit, and he arose from his towel. He ambled a little down the beach to retrieve Dartmouth’s suitcase, which was swathed in smooth sand, and returned to his picnic spot. “This is yours, methinks?” he helpfully reminded him, holding the suitcase out to Dartmouth. Glaring into Jollimore’s pleasant smile, Dartmouth snatched the suitcase from his hold, plonking it down onto his towel. “Ah, you’re ever so ungrateful, aren’t ya, Dartmouth?” beamed Jollimore, giggling a little, but Dartmouth only morosely hollowed out the base of the pot for the last spoonful of chocolate mousse.
Jollimore sat back down as he watched Dartmouth fumble inside his lunch sack for the second dessert and finishing touch – his chocolate custard. “You spoon off the whipped cream first, then you savour the chocolate bit,” Jollimore directed Dartmouth. “But whipped cream isn’t good for my poor body – it’s too loaded and full of fat,” grumbled Dartmouth, which made the students immediately around him sneer at his remark. “Ugh, third time unlucky today…” he sighed crossly, hanging his head down.
Rather grudgingly, Dartmouth ladled a tiny spoonful of whipped cream off his chocolate custard, squeezing his eyes together with repulsion as he tasted rich, milky airiness in his mouth. “Oh, it’s not poisoned, it’s only dairy, Dartmouth,” Jollimore assured him. “It won’t kill you.” “Unless he’s allergic to dairy – which we hope he is!” laughed a student, the others chortling with agreement. “Kids…” Jollimore coerced them to calm themselves, while Dartmouth grunted with exertion as he gulped down the cream. Stomaching it and easing up, he scooped up some chocolate custard, sliding the spoon into his mouth and tasting the cocoa. “There, the cream did no harm, did it?” asked Jollimore, smiling, and Dartmouth managed a stifled nod of approval, his eyes still squeezed shut.
Dartmouth took a second to breathe out heavily. He opened his eyes, taking another lick of chocolate custard. Jollimore turned his head to view the balmy midday sun shining on the shimmering aquamarine sea, its waves lapping up against the golden sand down the shore. The fresh, brackish ocean breeze gusting upward on the beach whipped up Jollimore’s hair, beating against Dartmouth’s face. “Ugh, Jollimore, I’m still eating!” snapped Dartmouth, trying to fan Jollimore’s flowing hair away with his free hand. Jollimore chuckled, sweeping some stray wisps off. “Well, I can’t control the wind, can I?” Dartmouth tried to scoop up another spoonful of chocolate custard, trying to keep Jollimore’s hair well out. “Get it wet in the sea again and the seawater’ll weigh it down, so it won’t flap about in my face!” he retorted. But the students only laughed out loud at Dartmouth, making him draw out another long moan, his head slumped down.
Dartmouth turned his back to Jollimore so his drifting hair wouldn’t taint another dig of chocolate custard. “You won’t get your hair all chocolatey, Jollimore. Ugh, chocolate hair…” he grimaced, swallowing the cocoa-flavoured gunge down. Jollimore giggled a little. “At least it’d be tastier, and you can lick the chocolate when it whips against your face.” “Well, I don’t like getting my face dirty either,” griped Dartmouth, dabbing at his mouth with the corner of his towel. “Especially not by stupid kids…” “Oh, you’re dirty, alright,” quipped a student, poking fun at Dartmouth’s plentiful body lacerations. “Dirty Dartmouth! Or should I say… Dirtmouth!” another cracked a pun, and the others all laughed out loud again. Picking up on the word “dirt”, Dartmouth tried not to choke up his chocolate custard. He glimpsed down at the stitched scars on his bent knees. “This isn’t the kind of dirty that can just be washed off…” he growled lowly, hastily following up with another spoonful of the dark brown cocoa goop. “If only it was,” chuckled Jollimore rather ruefully, with the students hooting in accord. Dartmouth groaned tetchily, huddling over his pot of chocolate custard.
Scraping up the last splodge of chocolate custard from the base of the pot, Dartmouth forbore the overwhelming urge to heave as he quaffed it down, and he exhaled a weary sigh. “You finished your lunch, Dartmouth?” asked Jollimore, and he arose from his towel, facing all the students. “Alright, kids,” he began, “let’s get cleaning up our garbage. We gotta keep this beach and the sea tidy for ourselves and everybody else.” Stomaching his chocolate custard, Dartmouth stood up tall, straight and firm, curled fists on hips. “You heard him. Let’s clear up all this waste, or you’ll ruin the environment. You dumb kids.” He slotted the empty dessert pots inside one another, depositing the muddy used spoons inside. The students went to fetch some black plastic sacks from the back of the beach truck, clambering inside and taking one sack each. “Careful you don’t trample on me again,” Dartmouth cautioned them sternly. “I think we’ll need some sacks ourselves too,” smiled Jollimore, picking up a couple of sacks off the truck and passing one to Dartmouth, who glared down crossly at it in his hand while Jollimore hollowed his own out.
With Dartmouth and Jollimore’s help and close supervision, the students returned to the picnic belt and began on cleaning the beach of all their lunch trash, amassing it into sizable armfuls to speed up the tidying process. While they assisted the students in cleanup, the two teachers also filled their own sacks. Dartmouth felt a mild ache in his back rising up again because of his constant bending down, and he lay on a hand, breathing rather gruffly. “Oh, is your back hurting, Dartmouth?” asked Jollimore. “Just keep it straight while you bend your knees.” “But I have to bend down,” insisted Dartmouth, caressing his back to try to alleviate the twinge.
Jollimore knelt down on one knee and propped his straightened arm up against Dartmouth’s back while he gathered a heap of litter into his sack. “There, like that,” smiled Jollimore, but Dartmouth just plucked his arm right off his back. “I can do this myself, no thank you very much.” Jollimore affably shrugged it off. “Ungrateful Dartmouth as usual.”
Dartmouth and Jollimore tossed their filled sacks of garbage into the back of the beach truck, dusting their hands off. Dartmouth caught notice of a creamy, eggy, pale yellow substance on his hands. “Ugh, got some mayonnaise from some stupid kid’s sandwich box on my fingers.” Jollimore spotted a water fountain just beside a salmon-red beach hut a little further upward. “We’ll wash our hands over there,” he suggested. “Good. Saves us having to dash all the way down to the sea just to clean this slime off ourselves,” Dartmouth harrumphed sarcastically, trailing behind Jollimore.
Pressing the button on the water fountain to activate the stream, Jollimore gave his hands a good soaping and soaking, bubbles lathering up. Dartmouth squinted down distastefully at the mayonnaise on his fingers, perturbed by the greasy sensation. “Jollimore, your hands are a lot cleaner than mine!” he snapped, glowering at his freshened hands. “Well, we just touched garbage, and that’s been touched by a lot of grubby hands – including our own,” explained Jollimore. “The bacteria from there’ll make ya sick.” Dartmouth wrangled with the gag reflex of retching up his just-consumed lunch, clutching at his throat, while Jollimore went to dry his hands off with the flannel hanging on the hut door. Dartmouth squirted some liquid soap into the palms of his mayonnaise-coated hands and scrubbed them together heatedly, working up a thick, aromatic foam with the scent of forest berries.
Drying his hands off on the flannel, Dartmouth double-checked to see if he’d rinsed all the mayonnaise off, and he returned to the beach truck with Jollimore, where the students were ganging up together to fling their packed garbage sacks into the back. “Careful you don’t hit me with your dirty sacks!” warned Dartmouth, but a student right next to him swung his sack about, thumping him on the forehead. “Grrrggghhh, you stupid kids! Never listening to my commands!” he bellowed, shaking his tightened fists, but Jollimore only chuckled. “Least it’s a lot less painful than having your head stomped on.” “You have to remind me of that again, Jollimore?” Dartmouth’s eyes creased up into narrow, irate slits.
Retrieving their towels off from the sand, Dartmouth and Jollimore rolled them back up and wedged them under their arms. Dartmouth hoisted up his suitcase and lunch sack and re-entered his beach hut, cramming them both beneath the bench. “Better make sure those stupid kids don’t pinch my suitcase off me again…” he grumbled to himself as he shut the door behind himself, bolting the latch tightly to prevent raids by roused students.
Jollimore emerged from inside his own hut, securely fixing the latch too. The students dashed all over the beach, nattering to each other and shouting excitedly as they flapped their towels up and down, lying flat on the sandy ground. “Oh, I think they’re gonna relax,” remarked Jollimore. “We should have a little rest too.” “Hmmph. I could do with some relaxation right now…” harrumphed Dartmouth.
Towels in hand, Dartmouth and Jollimore strolled a little down the beach, pausing upon a small sandy slope just a few metres up from the sea, a rainbow-tinted parasol pegged into the soft, silky sand casting a cooling, protective shadow. They rolled both their towels back out onto the sand, with Dartmouth’s towel slightly overlapping onto Jollimore’s so it looked a little like a double bed beside the ocean, and curled the top edges over several times to make a pillow of sorts for extra neck and head comfort.
Dartmouth and Jollimore lay down on their towels beside each other, the skin of their arms closely touching. “Jollimore, you’re up on me,” griped Dartmouth, trying to shift Jollimore off himself. “I think this is the very first time we’ve slept together,” grinned Jollimore, and Dartmouth scoffed. “Huh. As if that’d ever happen.” Jollimore smiled softly. “Well, it’s happening right now.” Dartmouth’s scoff drew out into an elongated moan of jadedness.
Jollimore fetched a pair of extra towels from beneath the mains, which took Dartmouth somewhat by surprise. He rolled the black towel out up to the base of his neck like a duvet and resting his head on the curled edge. “Huh… You just so happened to have some spare towels, otherwise the hot sun would’ve burned my exposed skin.” Dartmouth rolled the beige towel out onto himself. “I come in handy whenever you need a little something more,” beamed Jollimore brightly, tugging his towel up to the nape of his neck and immediately falling asleep. Dartmouth scoffed again. “Jollimore for the job. Heh.” He lay his head upon the curled edge of his own towel, soon dropping off to sleep too. The gentle rumble of the sea’s waves dousing the golden, sun-drenched beach reverberated off their eardrums, lending soothing energy to Dartmouth and Jollimore while they kipped.
Dartmouth and Jollimore lay straight out stomach-down on their towels, immersed in a deep sleep, the balmy sun locking in the warmth from their towel-duvets. Manipulated by the faraway moon, the sea began to gradually ramp up to high tide, creeping a tiny length up the shore as foamy waves continually rammed themselves up. Dartmouth felt some sea spray spit onto his bared skin, remaining in profound slumber. The approaching sea touched the very tip of Dartmouth’s toes, dampening the lower edge of his towel slightly. He grunted lowly, partially opening his left eye and cocking his head, then shook it a little as he rested back upon his ‘pillow’.
Suddenly, a long, large wave collided with the shore, splashing Dartmouth and Jollimore, who somehow stayed fixed in his sleep. “Huh?” Dartmouth breathed out, his drenched towel clinging to his moistened skin. He whipped it off himself to find the sea soaking his inner thighs and legs, and he found himself staring down at it in dread, gasping. “Juh-Juh-Jollimore!” stuttered Dartmouth under his breath, kneeling to prod Jollimore awake. But Jollimore just nudged onto his right side, puffing out as he supported his head on his opened hand. “Oh, thanks. That helped a lot,” Dartmouth muttered sarcastically, shrugging, the sea submerging his knees.
At that moment, another coast-wide wave hurtled down onto the shore, splashing the two teachers again and slamming Dartmouth back to the wet, sandy ground. He was now at the unforgiving mercy of the speedily-rising tide.
A little further out to sea, a storm wave began to roll out towards the beach, gaining momentum and altitude with every inch it travelled. Dartmouth glanced up at the sky, which was still clear, bright and blue without any clouds visible. “How can there be a storm in the sunshine?” he wondered to himself, squinting at the glowing sun, the storm wave slinking up ever closer. It curled over two slightly smaller waves, swallowing them up and elevating itself to a roaring tsunami, bent on wreaking absolute destruction to everything and everyone in its damaging track of annihilation. The sudden, terrible realization struck Dartmouth… he couldn’t escape from anything this vast and expansive. He gaped out in alarm at the looming tsunami wave, silently giving himself and his life in to the malice of the sea.
The height of a skyscraper, the tsunami wave unleashed its pure devastating power into a crash-landing upon the shore, swamping the entirety of the beach – Dartmouth and Jollimore included – with freezing, clear turquoise seawater, an unprecedented flash flood engulfing the whole seaboard. Dartmouth fumbled about in a frenzied but futile attempt to get back to fresh air, his body temperature rapidly plummeting with the chill of the sun-filtered water. He caught short sight of his towel floating quietly on the surface just before his body slowly surrendered to aquatic hypothermia, his weakening heart grinding down to a complete halt as he let his wilting self drift to the cold, dark ocean floor… his sight totally blacking out.
Dartmouth suddenly jolted himself awake. His body streamed sweat, making his towel stick to his clammy skin, as he breathed in and out heavily while gasping. Realizing it was only a bad dream, he heaved a great sigh of relief, and he smiled.
Jollimore perked up and promptly woke, rotating onto to his left side to see Dartmouth in good spirits. “Oh? Dartmouth… you’re… smiling,” he remarked, seeming a little surprised. Dartmouth exhaled another sigh. “Oh, I had a terrifying nightmare.” Jollimore glimpsed up at the the shining sun in the bright blue sky, cocking his head. “A nightmare during the day?” he asked, then he smiled too. “I guess you’d call that a daymare.” Dartmouth gave out a guttural groan, his face falling back into his usual angry demeanour. “Ah, Dartmouth, ya can’t ever take a joke, can ya?” chuckled Jollimore, playfully elbowing Dartmouth in the chest, making him inhale with slight pain, grabbing and massaging at his heart.
Jollimore caught on the boisterous noise of excited bucket and spade-lugging students yelling out as their feet drummed against the sand back down to the sea. “Ooh, looks like we’re gonna go build sandcastles,” he beamed, climbing out from underneath his towel-duvet, sharing their eagerness. “Sandcastles. Hmmph…” harrumphed Dartmouth, begrudgingly kicking his own towel-duvet off his body, straggling after the sprinting Jollimore and their enthusiastic students down the shore back towards the ocean.